OPINION: Time for a treat — and don’t feel guilty about it

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
Eat for fuel but also eat for pleasure.
Camera IconEat for fuel but also eat for pleasure. Credit: Jamie Grill/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

It’s a reference we all make to something in our life, “our guilty pleasure”. It could be a TV show, a song or some type of food. Often not generally held in high regard for quality or even something known to be bad for us.

For me it’s always been ice-cream sundaes, no better feeling than going all out with three or more flavours, syrup, wafers, nuts, cream. It’s something I grew up with, my Mum would give us one as a “special treat” during our school holidays (if we were good).

But the term “guilty pleasure”, particularly in relation to food can have a dark side. Especially when it covers food marketed as “guilt free”. We often see “fat free” or “sugar free” branded as “guilt free” to encourage people to see them as healthy.

Many people suffer from eating conditions such as anorexia and bulimia.

The psychology behind these conditions is complex but guilt when eating plays a huge part. Linking guilt or lack of it to food can be harmful.

Don’t get me wrong; there are obvious benefits for having healthier versions of foods, it can allow us to eat more of the things we enjoy.

But using these terms will have a downside when we do eat the “regular” version of our favourite food.

I have suffered from food issues most of my life and have been overweight since childhood, having to battle fitness and obesity-related issues for decades.

My relationship with food, as it is for many others, is complex. Food has always played a big part in my social life, family life, TV watching. It’s at the core of most of the things I do.

I still struggle eating “unhealthy” — doughnuts, cakes, pies, burgers.

But what I have realised is that no one food item should make you feel guilty.

In fact you shouldn’t feel guilty about eating anything in moderation as part of a healthy overall lifestyle. Going out for a doughnut is the highlight of my weekend.

Having an ice-cream sundae is our holiday treat and eating fried chicken is what our trips to the US are all about!

You don’t need to punish yourself or feel remorse about your eating habits.

Just listen to the cues your body gives you. Eating for fuel but also for pleasure.

Stop thinking of guilt, remove it from your food language — it’s not needed.

If you choose to eat that cookie, it should be anindulgence, not a guilty pleasure.

In other words, it should make you feel positive, in control and above all happy, not like you did something wrong and now need to eat lettuce all day or even fast for the rest of the week to make up for it.

A happy body can be a healthy body, lowering stress has a multitude of health benefits.

Be healthy, learn healthy habits and above all treat yourself!

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